The research activity of our group is mainly focused around gravitational waves. We are part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the LISA Consortium.
In general relativity spacetime is a dynamic and elastic entity both influencing and influenced by the distribution of mass and energy that it contains. As a consequence, the accelerated motion of mass and energy can generate ripples in the fabric of spacetime propagating at the speed of light called gravitational waves.
On September 14, 2015, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) detected for the first time gravitational waves emitted by two colliding black holes and inaugurated the era of gravitational wave astronomy.
Gravitational waves encode unique information about the source that has generated them. Searching for and analyzing gravitational wave signals leads to a better understanding of gravitational phenomena and has an impact on astrophysics as well as fundamental physics and cosmology.
Some of our main activities include:
We are part of the ACES (Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space) project led by the European Space Agency which will place ultra-stable atomic clocks on the International Space Station. The ACES performances will be used to conduct a suit of fundamental physics experiments to test Einstein's theory of general relativity with improved accuracy. According to Einstein's theory, identical clocks placed at different positions in stationary gravitational fields experience a frequency shift that, in the frame of the PPN (Parameterized Post-Newtonian) approximation, depends directly on the Newtonian potential at the clock position. The comparison between the ACES onboard clocks and ground-based atomic clocks will measure the frequency variation due to the gravitational red-shift with a huge improvement on previous experiments.